Have Telegram Will Travel

 

There are a few things I put into almost every book of mine and the telegraph is one. It was the “email” of the 19th and early 20th centuries. People needed a fast way to send a message, and in the early 1800s, Samuel Morse gave them the telegraph—a machine that sent a series of dots and dashes over a wire.

In April 1856, Western Union began operating and reached peak popularity in the 1920s and 1930s when it was cheaper to send a telegram than call long distance.

They charged by the word and the cost of a 10-word telegram in 1870 was around $1.00, depending on the distance.

It was customary to use the word STOP in place of a period. I found one reason for this being that it was cheaper than a period but I’m not so sure. I couldn’t find the cost of a period listed anywhere. Another source mentioned that it was to clarify the message and since they were sent in a series of dots and dashes, distinguishing periods would’ve been difficult. I believe this.

In any event, messages weren’t that cheap, so people used the fewest words possible.

In my Men of Legend series, Stoker Legend installed his own telegraph on the huge ranch so he could get messages quickly since headquarters was a good thirty miles from the nearest town.

And in my latest book, The Mail Order Bride’s Secret, Tait Trinity used the telegraph to send for Melanie Dunbar, the mail order bride he’d been writing.

* * * *

Now I have an offer for you. From today 5-19-20 to 6-02-20 my Texas Heroes series (digital only) goes on sale everywhere online!

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So if you missed one or all of the series now is your chance.

 

Would you have made use of the telegraph system back then? Or would you have just written a letter? The cost of a letter was about 4 cents. Do you know of anyone who received a telegram?

Linda Broday
Here in the Texas Panhandle, we do love our cowboys. There's just something about a man in a Stetson and jeans that makes my heart beat faster. I'm not much of a cook but I love to do genealogy and I'm a bit of a rock hound. I'm also a NY Times & USA Today bestselling author of historical western romance. You can contact me through my website and I'd love to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more. HAPPY READING!
https://petticoatsandpistols.com/sweepstakesrules/

50 Comments

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  1. I think I would have written a letter, unless it was important for the information to be received quickly.

    1. Letter would work for me. I remember when the 8 cent stamp came out and gas was under 50 cents while hubby was stationed in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan back in late sixties.
      I do not ever remember getting a telegram, but I do remember as a child, my Mother wiring money to someone.
      I have read all I can get from you.
      Your books are the Excellence Standard for Historical Western Romance to me. Other authors do a fine job and rate pretty high, just not equal to yours.
      Love ya. Stay Safe. Stay Well. KEEP WRITING!

      1. Hey, Miss Jerri! Thank you so much for the compliment. I have a new one coming in November- Once Upon a Mail Order Bride. It’ll be the last in the series. I have never gotten a telegram in my whole life but I can see how it would’ve been advantageous back before telephones. And people could wire money to someone in need. I’m glad we don’t have to rely on that early technology now. Thanks for coming, my dear. Glad you enjoyed my post. Much love.

    2. Good morning, Vicki…..A letter was a lot cheaper but it took a month or more sometimes to reach you. Thanks for coming. Enjoy your day.

  2. Avatar

    I’m impatient and frugal, so unless it was urgent(as defined by me) I would probably opt for sending a letter because it was cheaper. I thoroughly enjoyed the 1st book of this series and look forward to reading the other two!

    1. Good morning, Miss Edwina! Thank you so much for stopping by. I’m a frugal person also and doubt I would’ve telegraphed anyone but it was ingenious and benefited a lot of people. A dollar would’ve been a lot of money back in the 1800s. Thank you for liking Knight. I hope you enjoy the others in the series. Have a blessed day.

  3. Fascinating. I probably would have written a letter.

    1. Good morning, Denise…..I’m so happy to see you. Thank you for coming over and weighing in. I hope your day is filled with blessings.

  4. Wow. A telegram was pretty expensive back in the day. Myself, I probably would have written a letter unless it was urgent. But now days I really struggle writing letters. I much prefer to type so in today’s day if telegrams were still popular it would probably be a telegram. Lol

    Have a beautiful day Linda. I hope today shines down on you with sunshine and warmth to fill your soul. (Hugs)

    1. Good morning, Dale! I’m so happy you stopped by. I totally understand about the letter writing because I’m the same way. I have three letters I really need to reply to but they keep sitting there and I keep ignoring them. LOL Yep, I just can’t make myself. I hope you have a day of blessings and much love.

  5. Good morning Linda. I have always wondered why they used the word STOP? Now I get it, of course, a period would be confusing in a message full of dots. That never crossed my mind, until you said it.
    Well, like I say all the time, everyday I learn something new. I think I would of only used the telegraph in dire situations, when a message needed to be delivered urgently. I imagine I would write letters 99% of the time.
    It’s amazing how advanced we have become in the last century and a 1/2. I told Rob that the older generation who were born in the 1st part of the 20th century and lived a long life, have seen more changes in their years than any other generation ever will again. Cars, planes, television, telephones, space travel, music, Cell Phones, and computers have all been developed in their lifetime. I do not think another generation will ever see the diversity that these folks have witnessed.
    Great blog, thanks for sharing. I hope you have a beautiful, happy writing day. Love you my sweet sister friend.

    1. Good morning, Miss Tonya! I’m very happy to see you. I wondered also why they used the word STOP but it would cut out the confusion. LOL You’re right about our technology. Even computers. I wrote my first books in longhand. Probably why they were never published. HA! I had access to a computer about 1998 but it was very difficult to search for any subject that I wanted to research. And when I published Knight I did everything via the post office, sending things back and forth. I remember the first TV and cell phone. I thought cell phones would never amount to anything. Half the time back then you couldn’t get a signal so they seemed pretty worthless. I didn’t want one. But now, it’s all I have. Too funny. You have an inspiring day. I love you dearly, sister friend.

  6. Only if it was an urgent message I would just send a letter.

    1. Good morning, Kim! I’m glad you enjoyed my post. I hope you have a blessed day and do something you like.

  7. That depends on how fast I want the message received. 🙂
    Good post, Linda!

    1. Good morning, Tracy! Wow, I’m glad to see you, dear friend. And I’m happy you enjoyed my post. I read where people back then thought the telegraph would last forever. They couldn’t imagine it ever being replaced. How funny. I hope you’re doing okay and enduring this pandemic without too many problems. Love you, lady!

  8. I love to send letters to my family, I like the personal touch . BUT if in those days I’m sure if I needed to reach someone ASAP definitely be a telegraph.

    1. Good morning, Rose Ann! Great to see you! Thanks for coming over. We do what we must when it comes to communication but I’m a horrible letter-writer. I have three that I need to reply to but just can’t make myself. I feel so ashamed. You have a blessed, inspired day. Love you.

  9. I would have written a letter but sometimes you would have needed a telegraph.

    1. Good morning, Debra! I’m happy to see you. Sometimes speed is necessary but it would’ve been hard to part with a whole dollar when you worked for 11 cents an hour and an average yearly income was about $300. Hard to imagine. Enjoy your day and do something fun.

  10. I always liked getting letters. It’s a shame no one does it anymore. But if it were an emergency and a message needed to have gotten to the other person quicker, I would send a telegraph.

    1. Good morning, Janine! I like getting letters but I’m horrible at writing them. If I’d had the money, I would’ve telegraphed. I hope you have a blessed day filled with love.

  11. I would have just written a letter. Now if it was an emergency I may have use the telegraph.

    1. Good morning, Quilt Lady! I would’ve done the same even though someone would’ve had to beat me with a stick to write a letter. LOL Wishing you a blessed day filled with love.

  12. I’d probably have used the letter. I like sending them today!

    1. Good morning, Susan P! Great to see you. I think you’re the exception. Hardly anyone likes writing letters. I’m not normally a procrastinator but I am when it comes to writing letters. Just can’t make myself after writing all day. Have a blessed day filled with love.

  13. I would have sent a letter.

    1. Good morning, Estella! Thanks for coming and weighing in. It’s always a pleasure to see you. Much love.

  14. Thank you for sharing your interesting post. I would have been a letter writer.

    1. Good morning, Melanie! I’m so happy you enjoyed my post. I used to like writing letters and at Christmas I would always write inside the card but not anymore. I just can’t seem to do that anymore. I’m horrible at answering letters. You have a wonderful and blessed day, dear friend.

  15. Linda, Thank you for this fascinating post. I would send urgent message by telegram.

    1. Good morning, Caryl! Thanks for coming over. I’m happy you enjoyed my post. I do think telegrams were usually reserved for urgent matters. But in writing this post, I read where a man proposed to his lady love by telegram. LOL That takes the cake. You have a blessed and inspiring day.

  16. Avatar

    Good morning! Yes I would have used the telegraph for emergencies. Things like someone very ill, there was an accident, a death or anything like that I needed someone to come in a hurry. Otherwise, I would have sent a letter. I can remember a few telegraphs from when I was young from Western Union but I can’t fir the life of me remember what they were about. It is funny to think that now long distance calls and modern day telegrams, texts and emails are considered free. We don’t tend to take into account our monthly cell phone, home phone and internet bills. It wasn’t that long ago that we had to consider whether we needed to make that long distance call or not because of the bill. Another thing I was just reminded of was being somewhere and needing to make a long distance call and charging it to our home phone or calling collect. Kids these days have no idea how easy their lives are.

    1. Hi Stephanie! Thanks for coming. I agree that kids today don’t have a clue about our lives and how different things were for us. I remember having to call collect too when I had no way of paying for the call myself. It made me feel so ashamed. My mom used to talk about how they’d get telegrams letting them know about relatives that died. And for a while during WWII the military used Western Union to notify people about their missing or dead soldier. You have a beautiful day, my warrior buddy. Love you.

  17. Avatar

    I think if it was a emergency I would send a telegraph. I would write a letter any other time. I know of no one that has received one. Morse code is still used in the navy isn’t it?. Thank you for sharing Linda.

    1. Hi Charlene! I believe Morse code is still being used in various things–the Navy for one. The Coast Guard for another. I would never figure out what all those dots and dashes meant. Ha! Have a beautiful day.

  18. Hi Linda,
    Such a neat post. I love thinking about all the message that were sent via telegraph in back in the 1800s when it was such a novelty. I think I would have been more inclined to write a letter, unless it was an emergency.
    And thanks for the sale books. More happy hours of reading for me! <3

    1. Hi Miss Shanna! I’m happy you enjoyed my post. I, too, think of what messages our cowboys, outlaws, gunslingers, and lawmen would’ve sent by telegraph. It’s fun to put a telegraph in our stories. I hope you enjoy the books. Love you, lady!

  19. Welcome today Linda I have always been fascinated with he telegraph. I am not really sure why. This is an interesting post. My grandmother once mentioned that she had received telegrams. I have always loved to write letters (to this day). So I would prefer writing letters, even knowing it would take a while to get an answer. Something about receiving a letter in the mail that makes me feel that someone cares enough to write. But I suppose if I lived at the time and an emergency came up, or I needed to let someone know something NOW, I would use the telegram.

    1. Hi Miss Lori! Thank you for liking my post. My mom used to talk about getting telegrams saying some relative was sick or had died but I’ve never gotten one. I agree about letters. I do love to get them but I’m horrible about answering. I have three right now waiting for me to reply. After a day of writing, it’s hard to do more when I quit for the day. You have a blessed day, dear lady!

  20. I would have used the mail unless it was an emergency… do not know of anyone that actually ever received a telegraph…

    1. Hi Colleen! Great to see you. I’m happy you came over to read my post. My parents talked a lot about getting telegrams but I never have. It’s easier for people just to pick up the phone and call or send an email. Have a beautiful day!

  21. I am sure I would have used the telegraph if a message was urgent because I know the mail took a very long time to be delivered. Thanks for the sale on these books. I haven’t read them so I look forward to enjoying a new (to me) series.

    1. Hi Christy! Thank you so much for coming. The mail back then took a month or more depending on the distance. It would’ve been excruciatingly slow but if the news was urgent it was best to telegraph. I imagine people got all dressed up just go send a telegram. They used to get dressed up for everything. Thank you for the interest in my series. I do hope you enjoy them.

  22. Hi Linda–I would have used the telegraph is I had the $$ and if it was a necessity. But so many people didn’t have the money, I’m sure! I still have the letter that my great grandmother’s sister wrote to her to tell her that their mother had died. It’s all there in detail. And about the funeral, and what they dressed her in, and so on. I suppose she figured there was no need in sending a telegram at that point–might as well write a letter and put in all the things she knew her sister would want to know. I always love your posts. I, too, had wondered about using “STOP”–but that makes perfect sense with all the dots and dashes for words–it would have been confusing.

    You have a wonderful set of books, and I’m looking forward to getting caught up and sitting down and devouring everyone of them! (Love your covers, too!) Hugs, filly sis! XOXO

    1. Hey, Miss Cheryl! I found the bit about telegraphs interesting and I’m using one in my stories all the time. Yes, I didn’t know the reason behind using the word STOP instead of a period so I was grateful to find that out. Thank you for the compliment on my covers. I really them. Hope you enjoy when and if you find the time to read. LOL Love you, dear friend!

  23. The urgency of the message would determine the method I used. For regular correspondence, mail would do. Like Cheryl said above about the letter sent to her great grandmother, the funeral was over and at that point the details were what were most important.
    My grandparents received a telegram notifying them my uncle (18 at the time) had been killed in battle in Korea. They were not using the notification/condolence teams they do now.
    Actually, I have sent a telegram to my husband while he was in Vietnam. Yes, a letter would have sufficed, but I just wanted to give him the news in a special way – “Congratulations, Father to be.”

    1. Hi Pat! I’m so glad to see you. Yes, the military did use telegrams during WWII and Korea to notify people of their missing or dead solider. Not sure about Vietnam. I like the personal touch of actually coming to the homes that they do now. But what a horrible job that would be. I can’t imagine how happy your husband was to get your telegram. I’ll bet his grin stretched a mile wide. Love you dearly.

  24. Last but not least … I get to read your blog. I would have written a letter thinking I couldn’t afford a telegram. These are awesome deals on your books. Take care my friend!

  25. I’m with you, Linda, on the use of the telegram in my stories. They play such a pivotal part in getting any kind of news disseminated back in the day. In one of my fort books, the telegraph had not quite reached there, and it made a huge difference in how the story played out. I think you’re right about why they used “STOP” instead of another period, makes perfect sense to me.

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